Known for its "truly scalable" blockchain trading card game Zombie Battleground, the Loom Network has been making headway in the Ethereum scaling space. Loom's software development kit apparently enables developers to build scalable blockchain games and social networks. Most recently, though, the team announced it is running three sidechains – PlasmaChain, GameChain, and SocialChain – to further make its scaling vision a reality.
To provide some history on Loom's progress, the crew announced its ZombieChain earlier this year. The shared sidechain employs a delegated proof-of-stake (DPoS) consensus algorithm like EOS. DPoS is similar to conventional proof-of-stake in that it requires validators to vote on blocks, but as the name suggests, DPoS relies upon community members to "elect" super representatives who ultimately validate the network (think of a representative democracy).
Because ZombieChain is a shared sidechain, anyone can run a Dapp on it if they pay the fixed monthly hosting fee. This model sidesteps gas payments so that, for instance, a game's players would not be charged microtransactions for every action they make in the game. Loom likens this setup to traditional web hosting.
PlasmaChain, on the other hand, represents the new and improved ZombieChain. As the Loom team began developing its Zombie Battleground marketplace on top of ZombieChain, it realized the sidechain "had potential to become something much larger than originally intended," noted Loom co-founder James Martin Duffy.
This realization led the crew to make the chain a central hub for token transactions to be connected to the Ethereum mainnet through Plasma Cash. Duffy describes PlasmaChain as an Ethereum bridge with its own decentralized exchange. He maintains that other sidechains could use PlasmaChain for "faster and cheaper transactions without ever touching mainnet."
For a bit of context, Plasma is a solution that theoretically scales the Ethereum blockchain by introducing a framework of off-chain transactions. Because these transactions would not propagate throughout the mainchain, the sidechains that house them would experience faster speeds and lower gas costs.
However, Plasma Cash, as explored by Vitalik Buterin, essentially modifies the Plasma system in that instead of requiring each block to be authenticated, a coin ID would act as a compact proof of the blockchain's transaction history, thereby circumventing the need to monitor the validity of every block. This modified system purportedly protects against double-spending and theft because each token would be indivisible and unmerged.
Loom's implementation of Plasma Cash, though, specifically concerns non-fungible ERC721 tokens. It is unclear how this use fully relates to Buterin's conception of the Plasma Cash model.
Regardless, the Loom team's PlasmaChain is a significant upgrade from its ZombieChain. According to Duffy, the rebranded chain will feature native payments in Ether and LOOM (Loom Network's cryptocurrency), as well as plans for Bitcoin integration in the future.
The next sidechain within the network, GameChain, is what Loom is using to run the alpha version of Zombie Battleground. This chain is a sidechain to PlasmaChain; therefore, it does not directly link to the Ethereum mainnet.
GameChain works as the interface for most game functions, allowing users to play without needing to interact much or at all with the underlying technology. In Zombie Battleground, for example, the cards used in the game are stored on PlasmaChain, but the other core backend aspects – matchmaking, tournaments, player rankings, etc. – occur on GameChain.
Currently, this sidechain is used internally within Loom, but the team plans to make the chain available to third-party game developers later.
The crew's last sidechain, SocialChain, is what Loom is using to run DelegateCall, or the team's social network Dapp. DelegateCall allows users to earn tokens through their contributions to the network (think of reddit's karma system). Instead of simply earning karma, though, individuals can redeem their points for ERC20 tokens, called DelegateCall tokens, on the Ethereum mainnet.
Like with GameChain, Loom intends to allow other social network Dapp developers to use the sidechain in the future.
The Loom crew has made significant progress toward utilizing Ethereum scalability improvements, but there's still a long way to go. Zombie Battleground – Loom's flagship game – is still only available as a private alpha.
Still, there is credit to be given in terms of Loom's goal of blockchain accessibility – it wants to provide end users with a seamless experience, regardless of individuals' background in and knowledge of the technology. In this way, Loom uses blockchain tech but hides it so that people do not have to worry about its complexities. That may be a smart move on the team's part to spur mass adoption.
In any case, Loom Network is a project to follow.